Boise Launches Car Sharing Program

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A street in Boise, Idaho (photo by Televiseus via Flickr)

(Boise, ID - YPR) The ribbon will be cut on downtown Boise's first car sharing program today. It's the third car share program in Idaho -- but the first that's non-campus-based.

Karen Sander, the executive director of the Downtown Boise Association (DBA), says the group became interested in car share after Boise State University started one for its students last fall.

Sander said her organization sees car share as a way to encourage people to ditch their personal vehicles. “The typical pushback for using transit is, ‘What if I need to run an errand on the other end of my commute?’” Sander says the flexibility of car share gives people easy access to a car.

DBA worked in cooperation with Capital City Development Corporation, the city of Boise, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s WeCar Program. Sander says at first the program will start with two vehicles. A press release says Enterprise anticipates more vehicles could be added throughout downtown Boise in the future.

Under the program, WeCar participants will pay an annual $35 fee. There’s an hourly fee to use a vehicle for local trips which includes gasoline, insurance and mileage up to 200 miles a day.

Sander says Boise is like many of its neighboring western states -- car crazy. “I think automobiles rule,” she says. “I think they will for a long time.” But, she says, when gasoline hit the $4 a gallon mark, residents began looking at other transportation options.

“I think people are starting to get smart about how they can save transportation dollars and use them in other areas of their lives,” Sander says. “And if those options are there, they’re going to use them -- [especially] if they’re flexible and they’re accessible.”

She adds that Boise is also an environmentally conscious community, and many residents ride their bicycles to and from downtown. “We’re a bike crazy community. Everyone likes their bicycles,” she says. Because of that, she says the car share sites will have bike lockers.

The car share program has other advantages as well. “It complements urban community sustainability programs reducing local emissions, traffic congestion and parking congestion," says Sander. "I think .. a lot of people look at the cost savings first.  And then folks who are interested in taking care of the environment --  this is one step closer to doing that.”

Sander says the city of Boise is now considering whether to add a bike share program.